Implementation Science

HEARD partners support implementation research on mentorship approaches to address post-partum hemorrhage care in Madagascar. Photo credit: Agence Multimedia & Publicitaire Manakara

Implementation Science

Better use of evidence is key to improving the implementation of policies and programs and is critical to more rapid achievement of our global health and development goals. Unfortunately, a disconnect often exists between implementation challenges and the information available to inform solutions.

The goal of implementation science is to improve health outcomes by reviewing, synthesizing, and promoting the use of evidence to inform policies and practices. This includes facilitating processes that accelerate the adoption, adaptation, and sustainability of those evidence-based policies and practices. 

The Implementation Science Approach of the USAID Health Evaluation and Applied Research (HEARD) Project

We aim to make existing data and evidence more available and useful to decision-makers. To do this we foster multi-stakeholder partnerships, inclusive of implementers, policymakers, advocates, researchers and others, to identify and fill the most relevant and important evidence gaps. This involves strategically aligning priorities among evidence producers and evidence users.  If there is engagement and demand among the evidence users from the start, use of this knowledge to inform action is more likely.

Depending on the implementation questions at hand, we leverage a wide set of research and evaluation approaches and disciplines. This may include (but is not limited to) implementation research designs, operations research methods, quality improvement, policy analysis, case study development, process documentation, evidence reviews, and data liberation and strengthening. Underpinning success is strategic communications, knowledge management and dissemination strategies that connect and inform the constellation of stakeholders required to collectively translate evidence into action.

Context-specific solutions

“Implementation science offers the opportunity to understand how best to develop a well-equipped health workforce able to respond to the prevailing challenges to ensure the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Leader from the East, Central, and Southern African Health Community

URC has more than 30 years of experience supporting global research and evaluation projects.  Our work demonstrates an understanding of the business of implementation science partnerships, processes, and how to use results for impact. URC continues to demonstrate this across many technical areas and within a range of global and country-specific contexts. Our success includes evidence-informed policy advocacy and implementation, improved practices, identification of critical new research and evaluation questions, enhanced institutional capacity for implementation science activities, and more equitable and inclusive collaborative learning and information sharing.     

Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) Project: Led by URC, HEARD is a flexible global implementation science partnership mechanism that responds to USAID’s health priorities. The project leverages learning collaborations – in which a diverse range of stakeholders share learning related to a specific health area, jointly generate evidence, and accelerate the use of that evidence to improve policy and program implementation globally. HEARD’s topic-specific learning collaborations focus on urban health, respectful maternal care, post-partum hemorrhage, social accountability, violence against children/child safeguarding, mental health and psychosocial support, and assistive technologies for those with mobility impairments.

Focus areas of the USAID Health Evaluation and Applied Research (HEARD) Project

Human Resources for Health (HRH2030) Project: URC served as a sub-partner to Chemonics International on HRH2030, a global project that worked to enhance health workforce performance and productivity through improved health facility management, health worker retention, digital health technology, and quality improvement. URC contributed its technical leadership in HSS to HRH2030 by developing health workforce skills and competencies, continuously improving the quality of care, motivating health workers and managing their performance, and applying an implementation science approach to its learning agenda. We leveraged our relationships with country and global networks – including the Global Health Workforce Alliance – to strengthen HRH at the national and local level.

Translating Research into Action (TRAction) Project: Led by URC, TRAction solicited proposals – primarily on a competitive basis – and awarded health research grants to research organizations in Africa and Asia to evaluate ways to effectively and efficiently introduce, implement, and scale up evidence-based interventions for maternal, newborn, and child health.